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The Liminal Text: Exploring the Perpetual Process of Becoming with particular reference to Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and George Lamming’s The Emigrants & Kitch: A Fictional Biography of The Calypsonian Lord Kitchener

Joseph, Anthony Derek. 2016. The Liminal Text: Exploring the Perpetual Process of Becoming with particular reference to Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and George Lamming’s The Emigrants & Kitch: A Fictional Biography of The Calypsonian Lord Kitchener. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This practice-as-research thesis is in two parts. The first, Kitch, is a fictional biography of Aldwyn
Roberts, popularly known as Lord Kitchener. Kitch represents the first biographical study of the
Trinidadian calypso icon, whose arrival in Britain onboard The Empire Windrush was famously
captured in Pathé footage. In the critical essay, contextualising Kitch, I argue that rite of passage
theory, in particular, liminality theory, as defined and developed by Victor W. Turner, offers a
valuable alternative to theories of hybridity and fragmentation hitherto applied to the postcolonial
Caribbean and its literature. To support this position I offer close readings of two iconic works of
postwar migratory fiction; George Lamming’s The Emigrants (1956) and Samuel Selvon’s The
Lonely Londoners (1956), showing how aspects of rite of passage and liminality theory illuminate
these novels.

My critical reflection on Kitch examines the marked absence of auto/biographical work on or
by calypso artists in ethnomusicology or mainstream publishing. This absence is disproportionate
both to the numerous studies of the calypso which approach the form homogeneously, at the
expense of its individual artists, and, to the socio-historical importance of the calypso to the
Caribbean and its disapora.

Since Kitch is a fictionalised biography, I provide a brief exploration of the genre by
drawing on the work of Michael Ondaatje and Earl Lovelace. My argument here is that the
multitudinous and liminal approach of Kitch offers a more plausible alternative to linear, single
narrator approaches since it mirrors both the process of research, and the manner in which a
community of non-hierarchical voices may contribute to the construction and memorialisation of a
calypsonian’s life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00019159

Keywords:

Lord Kitchener, calypso, liminality, Lonely Londoners, George Lamming, Samuel Selvon, Emigrants, Windrush, Trinidad, Fictional Biography

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Date:

31 October 2016

Item ID:

19159

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2016 15:06

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 05:03

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19159

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